Yet another Indian novel. This one is based in West Bengal. Not in Calcutta or anywhere near the sea though, but up north, in Kalimpong district, deep into the Himalayan mountainous region, where many ethnic minorities live.
It’s the mid 80s, the Gorkhaland movement insurgency for Nepali independence is underway and the life of Sai - a westernised orphaned Indian girl who lives with her grandfather (a retired judge), his cook and his pet dog - is shaken by the gruesome events and the ambiguous behaviour of his tutor/lover.
Meanwhile in Manhattan, Biju - the son of the aforementioned cook - lives and works as an illegal immigrant constantly dreaming to be granted a green card.
This is a story about colonialism and its consequences, of westernised Indians who despise Indian traditions (the judge being the main example of this category) and of traditional Indians who despise everything foreign, of Nepalis who despise Indians and of Indians who despise Nepalis, of love crashed by politics and cultural barriers, of poverty and immigration.
It’s a very interesting and beautiful read. The prose is very refined and polished, demanding and rewarding, bordering good poetry quality at times.